Single-use plastics no longer allowed in Weeki Wachee River

A new policy at Weeki Wachee State Park is stopping visitors from bringing one-time plastics into the river.

Starting January 1, people launching into the river from the park's dock can only bring reusable containers or bottles with them.

Several signs reading "only non-disposable items allowed on the river" have been posted throughout the parking lot and park entrance.

Ann Spivey, who leads the park's guest services department, said the policy was put in place in an effort to stop visitors from littering.

"This is something that's very important to us," said Spivey.

According to park officials, workers pick up trash left behind by visitors regularly, but they hope the new policy makes a splash.

Paul Vermuelen, who organized the Weeki Wachee River Rangers, a volunteer clean-up group, said he's shocked by the number of trash visitors leave behind in the water.

"You find Ziploc baggies, you find the Lunchable containers, you find Gatorade bottles, water bottles," said Vermuelen, who started organizing clean-ups about six months ago. He said he believes the new policy is a step in the right direction, but worries it may not be enough.

The policy only applies to people launching from the state park's dock, not other privately-owned docks along the river. 

"We are really hoping that being leaders in this that the other outfitters follow suit and do the same thing," said Spivey, "because it's important to us."